Everyone has heard of the phrase, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." The statement seems to hold a lot of truth, however there are some holes in its meaning. I recently heard a profound alteration of the phrase that completely changed my perspective, "it's not what you know or who you know, but who knows you." We know who a lot of people are. Some of which include celebrities, professional athletes, and even the President of the United States. The real question is, what good does it do if they have no idea who you are? The purpose of this article is to breakdown how to successfully network with others and establish a purpose when meeting new people.
Create a list of people you would like to meet:
Meet a wide variety of people with varying skills that can serve as a resource to you in the future. Creating a spreadsheet is a great way to organize a complex network. One of the greatest advantages of having a central list is easy accessibility to your available resources. It is extremely frustrating to forget old connections that would be a tremendous help while going through a problem or simply needing a question answered. Sample fields of the spreadsheet include name, meeting place, date, association, organization, position, skill, phone number, and email. I have included a sample template below that could be altered to meet your specific needs.
Introduction: Speak with a purpose. Immediately make the other person understand how you can be of use to them. People naturally gravitate towards value, and will want to establish a connection if they believe you could be a viable resource.
Conversation: Ask the questions. After explaining who you are and how you can add value, steer the conversation in a direction that is most advantageous to you. Let the person talk about themselves. The more they talk, the more they will think it was the best conversation they ever had.
Close the Conversation: After listening to what they had to say, determine whether or not they can add value to you. End the conversation by reiterating the purpose of meeting that person, and what you would like to see in the future. If it was just a friendly conversation that you do not see developing past acquaintanceship, end the conversation like this, "It was a pleasure meeting you this [time of day]. I'll see you around [location]." If you believe the person could be a valuable resource, end the conversation like this, "It was a pleasure meeting you this [time of day]. I'm fascinated with [value they can provide]. Do you mind exchanging [information]?" The closing is short, sweet, and to the point. It is direct and ends the conversation on a high note.
Follow Up: It is always courteous to send a brief message shortly after meeting someone to let the person know you enjoyed the conversation. The message can be sent via text, email, or even handwritten if the connection was significant. Handwritten notes and letters are a sure way to get remembered and set yourself apart. It is also important to maintain old connections by checking in every once in a while. It does not take much effort, and could make a loose relationship last a lifetime.
The power of networks are often overlooked and underutilized. By following these steps, you will have the ability to make a connection with anyone and effectively establish your own working network.
Written by: Jim Toth